By Matt Rooney
Have you ever heard the old expression “you don’t know a person until you live with them?”
I think the same could be said of Supreme Court justices, Save Jerseyans. History backs that up.
So while I’m inclined to be optimistic about Monday night’s big news, there is some reason for caution; here’s what we KNOW (or can reasonably assume) about Donald Trump’s nominee to succeed Anthony Kennedy on our nation’s highest court, Brett Kavanaugh:
(1) Bob Menendez and most leftists hate the guy.
You can tell quite a bit about someone by assessing their enemies. Here’s what Bob Menendez had to say shortly after news of Kavanaugh’s nomination broke over the wires:
Americans must let every member of the Senate know that a vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh is a vote to make abortion illegal, end protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, and further rig our justice system in favor of rich and powerful corporate interests.
— Senator Bob Menendez (@SenatorMenendez) July 10, 2018
Menendez voted against Kavanaugh in May 2006 when the latter was confirmed to the powerful United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit after being nominated by President George W. Bush.
(2) He’s a “safe” pick.
With over a decade on the D.C. Circuit and a career working for Anthony Kennedy and, later Kenneth Starr (!), this isn’t a situation where there’s vague academic writings and little else as we try to figure out which way Kavanaugh leans.
He’s also an ivy league jurist who none other than George W. Bush (who nominated him to the D.C. Circuit) is praising tonight, signaling that Trump didn’t pick someone who’s easy for the establishment media to pigeonhole as an ideological “extremist.”
All the same, he’s got fans in the pro-business community.
“The President has upheld his promise to nominate jurists who will protect the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution,” opined New Jersey State Director Erica Jedynak. “Judge Brett Kavanaugh has a staunch record that indicates he will interpret the Constitution as written and not legislate from the bench. AFP-NJ urges Senator Menendez and Senator Booker to swiftly confirm Judge Kavanaugh.”
For example, Kavanaugh isn’t a fan of over-regulating by federal agencies as well as the Obama-era Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The U.S. Senate is closely divided and President Trump seemed more interested in winning this battle than advancing an ideological agenda (no surprise there). Whether you think that’s smart politics or some sort of betrayal is a matter of perspective.
(3) Kavanaugh is a 2A guy.
Long-suffering New Jersey gun owners may soon have another ally on the U.S. Supreme Court.
“In Heller,” Kavanaugh wrote in a 2011 dissent to a ruling upholding D.C.’s assault weapon ban and gun registry, “the Supreme Court held that handguns—the vast majority of which today are semi-automatic—are constitutionally protected because they have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens. There is no meaningful or persuasive constitutional distinction between semi-automatic handguns and semi-automatic rifles. Semi-automatic rifles, like semi-automatic handguns, have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens for self-defense in the home, hunting, and other lawful uses. Moreover, semi-automatic handguns are used in connection with violent crimes far more than semi-automatic rifles are. It follows from Heller‘s protection of semi-automatic handguns that semi-automatic rifles are also constitutionally protected and that D.C.’s ban on them is unconstitutional.”
(4) On Abortion and Religious Freedom: A mixed bag.
The issue which is giving liberal activists fits? In 2015, Judge Kavanaugh wrote that Obamacare’s contraception mandate was violative of religious freedom. In a separate fall 2017 dissent, he opposed the majority’s decision permitting an illegal immigrant teenager to obtain an abortion. But…
ON ROE V. WADE — JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH was asked about the issue of abortion during his confirmation hearings to the DC Court of Appeals. He said he believes Roe v. Wade is binding precedent.
— Samantha-Jo Roth (@SamanthaJoRoth) July 10, 2018
While in private practice, Kavanaugh served as Chairman of the Federalist Society’s Religious Liberty Practice Group
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) July 10, 2018
Chances are VERY slim that a Roberts-Kavanaugh court overturns Roe v. Wade. More likely, as @DavidAFrench contends, that they gradually narrow the scope of "undue burden" under Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) July 10, 2018
(5) Unlikely to Overturn Obamacare, Too.
Even less encouraging for conservatives looking for a major shift to the right? Some have blamed Kavanaugh for helping save the ACA when, in 2011, he arguably laid the foundation for Justice John Roberts to uphold the notorious health care overhaul pursuant to the taxing power.